In some ways, digital publishing has never been easier. Content management systems like WordPress have democratized publishing, so just about anyone can create a website and start posting their thoughts online for the world to see. But developing a publishing business requires more than just getting your thoughts on the screen. For that, you’ll need a solid strategy to grow your readership.
Audience size matters, regardless of which monetization approach you choose. Advertisers will want to know how many people are seeing their ads, and they will pay more for promotions based on the size of the publication’s audience. If your monetization strategy involves paid subscriptions or memberships, then the size of your readership will clearly play a big role in your overall success, as well.
With the number of media channels growing by the day, consumers have never had more choices on where to get their news and entertainment. The situation becomes even more complicated when you take social media into account. Millions of users on Facebook and Twitter are posting their thoughts and opinions in real-time. How can digital news publishers compete on their own websites?
Expanding your audience means expanding your reach. Digital publishers large and small are searching for new, smarter, and more effective ways to grow their readership. This is a huge challenge for every media organization. Publishers are duking it out for followers and readers. How can you ensure your publication will come out on top? How will you grow your readership and cultivate a loyal fanbase? Start with these five simple techniques.
Top Ways to Grow Your Readership Online
1. Tracking Metrics
Do you know how large your audience is, or how many people are visiting your website on any given day? Where are those visitors coming from, and which pages are they visiting before they leave? There’s no reason to be worried about lackluster metrics, if that’s why you haven’t taken a peek under the hood in the past. There’s always room to grow. Sign into Google Analytics and comb through your metrics until you find a particular topic or page that’s gotten more views than any other. This is a great place to begin as you work to grow your readership. Start publishing more content on the same topic, or in a similar style, based on the content that’s performed best in the past. Make sure to use top SEO plugins, as well, so searchers on Google and Bing will be able to find the new content you’re posting.
2. Stay Visible
Having a website isn’t enough. Anyone can throw together a website using WordPress and a few publishing plugins. To really stand out, publishers must make sure they can be found on every channel. That means becoming active across social media, including top networks and lesser-known industry forums. High-quality content is the best advertisement for a publication, so promote your best work on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and all other relevant channels. Make friends with your followers on social media and be sure to reply when they leave you comments. If the goal is to grow your readership, then being active and visible across the web is one sure-fire way to do it.
3. Reader Retention
Most readers who visit an online publication won’t return after they’ve consumed the content they came for. They’ll arrive based on a Google search, read an article or two, and then immediately click away. If you want to really grow your readership, you need to find ways to bring those one-time readers back for more. Email newsletters and pop-ups or overlays that invite readers to enter their email addresses in exchange for exclusive content are a popular method for publishers right now. Another strategy for promoting reader retention is to develop a mobile app. Readers who’ve downloaded a mobile app are much more likely to return to your website and become regular readers.
4. Quality Content
The most successful publications aren’t always the most well-written, but they do usually have something in common, and that’s high-quality content. If you want to grow your readership, you need to give your readers something valuable in exchange for their time. Hire professional reporters and editors at your publication, and take responsibility for the content you publish. Readers will respect this, and so will advertisers.
Experimentation can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. The most successful news publications and online magazines are posting content in written formats, audio formats, and video formats. Throw your hat in the ring by creating a YouTube channel or launching a podcast. Taking on challenges is something publishers are often rewarded for. It’s easier to attract new readers when you are posting creative, original content. Keep that in mind, and work to cultivate a culture of experimentation as you develop your strategy for audience growth.
For even more ideas about how to grow the size of your audience, read How to Use Social Media to Grow Your Digital Magazine.